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Mark Twain

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  308 ratings  ·  28 reviews
Ernest Hemingway called Huckleberry Finn “the best book we’ve ever had. There was nothing before. There’s been nothing as good since.” Critical opinion of this book hasn’t dimmed since Hemingway uttered these words; as author Russell Banks says in these pages, Twain “makes possible an American literature which would otherwise not have been possible.” He was the most famous ...more
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published November 13th 2001 by Knopf
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Patricia Hilliard
A fantastic look into the life of Mark Twain. He was clever and witty but not always wise. The man was a gambler at heart. I saw the monster "type-writer" that he invested huge amounts of money in at the museum/home in Hartford Connecticut. He had lots of good ideas, but was ahead of his time. That type-writer just about ruined him financially. Publishers stole his royalties by publishing his books in Canada and Great Britain but never paying him for his work. In politics he took a stand against ...more
Jared Whitefield
Enjoyed it. Personally though, I am of the opinion that reading Sam's books, letter's and other writings, and coming to my own conclusions, would be more fulfilling than the reading of this condensed biography was. The writers did a great job in condensing the long life and writings of Samuele Clements/Mark Twain into one book but much was just a retelling of some of his books and the author's opinion, which I am mostly in agreement with, of Mark Twain's impact on the with regard to American lit ...more
Suzanne Moore
I really enjoyed listening to the audio about this amazing man. Now I want to get the hard copy and check out all the photos. There were unabridged excerpts of Twain's work read throughout the narrative of his life. A very informative and enjoyable book! As Hemingway says he is like an American Shakespeare ... a literary genius to be studied through time. Samuel Clemens lived a life of great hardships and exorbitant luxuries. He visited all seven continents and was well received at lectures wher ...more
Carol Bauer
I just can't get enough about Mark Twain. This is a good start, though. Such a complex American, whose voice remains relevant today, should be required reading for all.

I love Sam Clemens in all his forms. Small town boy, riverboat captain, lecturer, comedian, family man, cat lover, world traveler and most of all himself, complete with flaws.

My only complaint, if it can be called that, was that I wanted more examples of his writing. I guess that I will have to remedy that on my own.
This biography of a great author does exactly what is should: it inspires the reader to want to know even more about the author, and it especially inspires the reader to read or reread some of his works. The second half of the biography, covering Twain's immense successes and spectacular failures (business and family) -- without excusing the man of his many faults -- is most welcome.
Gene Ruyle
This illustrated biography is the companion volume to the nearly four-hour documentary film directed by Ken Burns. Its 275 illustrations and photographs bring to mind and eye the life of both the man Samuel Langhorne Clemens and the legendary figure of Mark Twain with which it is forever fused. The varied takes and rich writing of the book's two authors, Geoffrey C. Ward and Dayton Duncan, coupled with essays and interviews from such major contributors as Russell Banks, Jocelyn Chadwick, Ron Po ...more
Steve Chaput
Mark Twain has always fascinated me and this biography only adds to that. I can't say that the book really held any surprises, since the basic elements of his background are well know. However, it was fascinating to hear from the writer's own journals and the memoirs of family & friends. In addition, Ward and his co-authors did interviews, along with reprinting articles by other writers on Twain's influence.

From his well-known early childhood, growing up on the banks of his beloved Mississip
Jul 20, 2009 Val rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: People who are interested in the life of Mark Twain
Recommended to Val by: Ken Burns' film
I'm a big fan of the Ken Burns' program (and love its soundtrack). This is the audiobook version, so I "lost" the benefit of all the photographs in the print version. But? Mark Twain's words are always best read aloud anyway. AND, this is an unabridged presentation, so that is DEFINITELY a good thing!

The first five discs are the bulk of the book, and the material upon which the Ken Burns film was based. Nothing new to me, though I feel it gives a very thoughtful account of Clemen's life, as juxt
Bill Gray
Companion volume to the Ken Burns PBS documentary on the life of Twain. It reads pretty well, so it isn't just a coffee table book. For people wanting a deeper read, Ron Powers' Mark Twain: A Life is recommended. And, of course, the documentary dvd, which is excellent, can be had too.
A nice overview of Twain's life with fascinating pictures and a balanced view of the good and bad parts of the man himself. Considering its length, its subsidiary status to the Ken Burns documentary it supports (which I haven't seen) and its stated non-comprehensiveness, it does an excellent job of getting the essentials of Twain's life in (especially his family dynamics) and inspiring the reader to go back to the books he may not have read. There's also a great inserted interview with Hal Holbr ...more
audio version in May & June
A biography on one of the most famous pen names mostly regarded as the father of American literature.

Mark Twain: An Illustrated Biography by Geoffrey C. Ward, Dayton Duncan, Ken Burns (Alfred A. Knopff 2001)(Biography). This biography of the most famous American author explains why he was the most celebrated American of his day. This is the companion book to the PBS series by legendary documentary film maker Ken Burns on Twain. My rating: 7/10, finished 2009.
This is an excellent book about the life of “Mark Twain” (Samuel Clemens). Twain gives an understanding to the revolution that the South went through in the post Civil War era. Through his books the brutality of slavery, social class, and imperialism comes blaring through. Because of this book I now want to read all of Twain’s work.
This is a fabulous review of Twain's life. It is marvelously entertaining with experts from his works, pictures of his life, and a narrative history of his life. He was the most famous orator of his time, so historically, he is worth reading about. This text provides readers with a robust and entertaining biography.
Sep 15, 2008 Barb rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone.
Very well done. What an amazing person Mark Twain was. While reading, I was reminded of all the personal loss and pain he endured, yet he kept moving forward. I'm profoundly grateful for the way in which he spoke out against slavery. What he has written is still timely for us.
This book has excerpts of Twain's letters to his mother, photos of his Hawaii years, and information about this brilliant writer that I've never before encountered, even though I've read most of his writing. What a treasure.
This was an excellent biography with lots of fun clips from his letters and works. For a more detailed analysis, hit up my book blog:
Ron Clayton
Excellent overview of Twain's life! The illustrations and writings of others gave added perspective.
For non-fiction, it was really good. I just don't much like non-fiction... :)
Learned a lot and liked the guy reading in Mark Twain's voice.
this book was awesome. I will never think of MT the same way again!
Stephen Murley
one ofthe best Twain biographies! Worth the time!
reading 4 my summer skool hw...... its boring
The Ron Powers book was better.
still reading about my favorite author
Ales D
What an extraordinary life!
Peara Dise
Peara Dise marked it as to-read
Nov 28, 2015
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Geoffrey Champion Ward is an author and screenwriter of various documentary presentations of American history. He graduated from Oberlin College in 1962.

He was an editor of American Heritage magazine early in his career. He wrote the television mini-series The Civil War with its director Ken Burns and has collaborated with Burns on every documentary he has made since, including Jazz and Baseball.
More about Geoffrey C. Ward...

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